Lingonberries growing in nice mossy bed
Cranberry sauce.... the must at a holiday table here in the United States; as I came to find out. My first encounter with cranberry sauce was at a Thanksgiving dinner about eight years ago... you know the jelly like stuff that comes out of a can... To cut the story short I hated that stuff and truly missed the cranberry sauce I used to make with my grandmother every fall... 
Later I found fresh cranberries in the store... wow, those cranberries are huge compared to what I have ever seen, I noted. I started making my own cranberry sauce based on the recipe on the package. Tasted much better... but still did not reach the level of the "old home made stuff". Over the years I have perfected my cranberry sauce; I added spices, made it with apple cider, orange zest, dried fruit... every time I make a cranberry sauce now it is a piece of art; always different. I am going to share one of many variations of my cranberry sauce today but first let's go back to the special cranberries from my childhood.
I have heard of these European berries called lingonberries before; Swedish specialty I was told... hmmm... I wonder what those are. Just recently I spotted a good looking jar of wild Lingonberry sauce in Vitamin Cottage. It is Christmas, let's try something new, I figured. I truly couldn't wait to try this sauce... after the first taste I new IT! It was the
same stuff... the "old good cranberry sauce"!! ...
Obviously this is Czech specialty as well :)) I probably don't have to explain that I am currently on lingoberry sauce overload... what a nice surprise for this year's
So what's the difference between American cranberries and European lingonberries? Lingonberries grow in the Czech Republic on low bushes with waxy leaves. They are easier to pick than blueberries because they form sort of "bunches" that can be stripped off the twig. They are very tart and bitter when eaten raw. When sweetened and made into sauce the flavor is more delicate than American cranberries. It is a great accompaniment to wild game... but really, pour it on anything, mix it to yoghurt, pour it over ice cream or try it with brie. Lingonberries (and its sauce) are not produced commercially in the Czech Republic as far as I know; at least not on a very large scale. If you want lingonberry sauce you have to go pick your own lingonberries and make your sauce :)
With all this excitement for lingonberries I am not ditching their large cousin cranberries. I like my spiced cranberry sauce a lot. Here is the recipe. Enjoy!!  And please, ditch the jelly canned stuff; not worth it.

Spiced Cranberry Sauce

1 12oz package cranberries
1 cup apple cider (or water)
orange peel from 1/2 orange
6 cloves
1/3 cup maple syrup or to taste
1 Tbs minced fresh ginger
1/2 tsp allspice, ground
1 star of anise, ground
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom, ground
1/2 tsp orange peel powder (optional but recommended)
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh minced rosemary

Pour apple cider into medium size saucepan and bring to simmer. In the meantime place cranberries into a strainer and rinse them. Set aside.
Push cloves into the orange peel ( the reason for this is that you don't have to fish for the cloves later).
Add rinsed cranberries, cloves pricked orange peel and all other ingredient into the simmering apple cider. Cover and simmer for about 5- 8 minutes until cranberries start popping. Remove from heat, take the orange peel out of the mixture. Pour roughly half (depending how chunky you want your sauce to be) of the cranberries with its liquid into a blender and pulse few times until well blended. Put the blended sauce back to the sauce pan with the whole cranberries. Mix and finish with rosemary.



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